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Colombia News Brief for October 2 – October 7, 2020

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Welcome to LAWG’s Colombia News Brief, a compilation of top articles and reports on issues of peace, justice, human rights, and more in Colombia.

SPOTLIGHT

United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia
United Nations, September 25, 2020
“The present report is submitted pursuant to the Security Council resolution 2487 (2019), by which the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, and Council resolution 2366 (2017), in which it requested the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of the mandate of the Mission every 90 days. The report covers the period from 27 June to 25 September 2020.”

United Nations Security Council Resolution 2545
United Nations, September 25, 2020
“Decides to extend, to 25 September 2021, the mandate of the Verification Mission and reporting requirements in accordance with its resolutions 2366 (2017), 2377 (2017), 2435 (2018), and 2487 (2019), headed by a Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations.”

GOVERNMENT-FARC PEACE PROCESS

A plea for help and peace, from Colombia’s communities to the UN Security Council
Cristal Downing, Modern Diplomacy, October 3, 2020
“Attacks on human rights defenders must be seen as attacks on communities. Human rights defenders and social leaders carry out crucial local work to implement the peace agreement and advocate with regional and national authorities to correct historic injustices to ensure fulfillment of human rights in some of the most challenging contexts in Colombia. The peace agreement promised these communities improved security conditions, so when those who fight for justice are brutally killed, hope is lost and the credibility of efforts towards peace is diminished.”

The murder of Alvaro Gomez: FARC rip open victims’ wounds after 25 years
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, October 5, 2020
“The family of late presidential candidate Alvaro Gomez rejected FARC leaders’ confession they were behind the 1995 assassination of one of Colombia’s most legendary politicians. Almost 25 years after the assassination, FARC leaders said they were responsible for the murder they were never suspected of.”

Así fue la masacre de Mondoñedo, clave en el crimen de Álvaro Gómez
El Tiempo, 7 de octubre de 2020
“Tal y como lo había publicado EL TIEMPO, algunos de los jóvenes asesinados en la llamada masacre de Mondoñedo, tendrían relación directa con el magnicidio de Álvaro Gómez Hurtado, tal y como lo reconoció, en entrevista con El Espectador, Julián Gallo (‘Carlos Lozada’), actual senador de la República, quien era uno de los líderes de la extinta guerrilla”.

“Bajo mi mando sí hubo menores de 15 años’: dijo Joaquín Gómez a la JEP
El Espectador, 6 de octubre de 2020
“Si bien en una primera parte, el excombatiente aceptó que pudieron existir casos, pero no se endilgó la responsabilidad del delito ni habló de sistematicidad; al final decidió leer una carta en la que reconocía que la lucha revolucionaria de las extintas Farc sí se vio empañada por hechos que nunca debieron ocurrir, como el reclutamiento de menores de edad”.

“Callamos por conveniencia y por vergüenza”: Farc sobre magnicidio de Álvaro Gómez
El Espectador, 6 de octubre de 2020
“En un cruce de cartas con el exministro Álvaro Leyva, Rodrigo Londoño reconoció el gravísimo error que cometieron las extintas Farc al asesinar al candidato presidencial Álvaro Gómez Hurtado y le agradeció su respaldo por el movimiento nacional por la verdad. ‘Somos los únicos responsables de su muerte, por favor, que dejen de buscar el ahogado aguas arriba’, agregó”.

La versión que entregarán exFarc ante la JEP sobre seis homicidios
Gloria Castrillón, El Espectador, 4 de octubre de 2020
“La histórica carta en la que el antiguo Secretariado de la exguerrilla de las Farc le informó a la Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz (JEP) que asume tempranamente su responsabilidad en los homicidios de Álvaro Gómez Hurtado, Hernando Pizarro León-Gómez, José Fedor Rey, Jesús Antonio Bejarano, el general Fernando Landazábal Reyes y Pablo Emilio Guarín es el resultado de un proceso interno que empezó en La Habana (Cuba) y apenas ahora se resolvió”.

GOVERNMENT-ELN PEACE PROCESS

Los 11 elenos que EE. UU. pide en extradición por narcotráfico
El Tiempo, 5 de octubre de 2020
“Tal como pasó con la exguerrilla de las Farc, los departamentos de Estado y de Justicia de Estados Unidos abrieron una carpeta reservada con los nombres de miembros mafiosos del Eln, guerrilla colombiana que se disputa zonas cocaleras con el ‘clan del Golfo’, ‘los Caparros’ y otras estructuras delincuenciales”.

COVID-19

Colombia’s capital will see second, smaller coronavirus outbreak, mayor says
Reuters, October 2, 2020
“‘Most probably towards the end of the year, in November or December, we could have a second wave much smaller than the first,’ Lopez said in a meeting with foreign press. The Andean country began more than five months of lockdown in March. It entered a much-looser ‘selective’ quarantine phase – allowing dining at restaurants and international flights – at the start of September. On Monday the government extended the selective quarantine until the end of October.”

Argentina and Colombia, a Tale of Two Lockdowns
Avery Dyer, Sara Torres, The Wilson Center, October 2, 2020
“By contrast, Argentina and Colombia took early and decisive action by imposing strict national quarantines. Although initially effective, the economically painful lockdowns ultimately failed to stem a recent surge in virus cases and deaths. Colombia now has the world’s fifth-highest number of cases, and Argentina, the ninth.”

HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Leaders under Fire: Defending Colombia’s Front Line of Peace
International Crisis Group, October 6, 2020
“Colombia’s grassroots leaders face a rising tide of attacks as they campaign for conflict-stricken communities’ rights. Violence targeting these activists has climbed despite the 2016 peace accord’s pledges to safeguard civil society. COVID-19 has exacerbated insecurity for these leaders as armed groups have exploited movement restrictions to consolidate control.”

In Colombia, a death in police custody follows a history of brutality
Steven Grattan, Anthony Faiola, The Washington Post, October 6, 2020
“The Colombian National Police, which reports directly to the Ministry of Defense, have long stood accused of excessive force, particularly during the half-century civil war that ended in 2016 against the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or the FARC. But Ordóñez’s death, and the official response to it, is sparking a far larger national debate over police violence.”

Judge can rule on house arrest order for Colombia ex-president, supreme court says
Julia Symmes Cobb, Reuters, October 5, 2020
“Colombia’s Supreme Court said on Monday a judge has the authority to rule on the future of a house arrest order against former president Alvaro Uribe, who is being held in a witness tampering case. The procedural decision is the latest development in a years-long case which saw the divisive president detained in August.”

Surviving Colombia’s paramilitary rule: keep your eyes open and your mouth shut
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, October 5, 2020
“In Medellin, pamphlets of the paramilitary group of ‘Otoniel’ appeared on Friday, announcing they would be imposing order, and take acting against police brutality and ‘attacks from ELN and dissident FARC guerrillas’ who have been accused of infiltrating recent anti-government protests. The AGC’s expressed support for peaceful protests is a break from the past when the paramilitaries’ predecessors of the AUC also considered any opposition to the government of the former President Alvaro Uribe ‘subversive’.”

Colombia: New Massacre Leaves Three Dead, One Was a Minor
TeleSUR, October 4, 2020
“This massacre adds to the wave of violence that Colombia has experienced this year and which already worries international peace and human rights organizations. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported that 48 homicides of social leaders and human rights defenders have been registered so far in 2020.”

Colombia sees surge in mass killings in 2020: UN
Reuters, October 2, 2020
“The UN peace mission in Colombia recorded 36 massacres in 2019, 29 in 2018, and 11 in 2017. ‘These crimes take place mainly in areas of poverty where the state has little presence, where the illegal economy reigns and there are disputes between illegal armed groups and criminal organisations,’ said the report published on Thursday.”

Conmoción en Colombia por el asesinato del historiador y dirigente político Elías Galindo
Nodal, 2 de octubre de 2020
“Conmoción causó en Medellín la muerte de Campo Elías Galindo, reconocido historiador e investigador en Medellín, quien también se desempeñaba como miembro de la coordinadora de Colombia Humana en esta capital. De acuerdo con información preliminar, el cuerpo sin vida de Galindo fue hallado en su vivienda por un familiar, quien de inmediato dio aviso a las autoridades”.

Government critic’s car attacked in Colombia’s capital
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, October 1, 2020
“A group of armed men took the car of a long-time critic of Colombia’s far-right former president Alvaro Uribe under fire in the capital Bogota on Wednesday. According to the vice-minister of Defense, Daniel Palacios, the attack on the car of the former Senator Piedad Cordoba (Liberal Party) during which one of her bodyguards was forced to surrender his gun was an attempted robbery.”

Colombians Denounce Assassination of Social Leader in Risaralda
TeleSUR, September 30, 2020
“There have been 222 leaders and human rights defenders murdered in Colombia in 2020 alone. Social and peace organizations in Colombia denounced the murder Monday of the president of the Community Action Board of the Sabanitas neighborhood of the Dosquebradas municipality of the Risaralda department, Jorge Quintero Villada.”

DRUG POLICY

Estados Unidos entregó el primero de 3 aviones Hércules a Colombia
Diana Jaramillo, Tele Medellín, 6 de octubre de 2020
“La base militar Catam fue el escenario para que la Fuerza Aérea Colombiana recibiera este importante elemento de cooperación, se trata de un avión Hércules que servirá, según el presidente de la República, Iván Duque, para fortalecer la capacidad de desplegar tropas en el territorio, combatir el narcotráfico, el terrorismo y movilizar ayuda humanitaria a lugares donde sean necesarios”.

VENEZUELAN CRISIS

Desaparición forzada entre Colombia y Venezuela: un crimen por el que nadie responde
Carolina Ávila Cortés, El Tiempo, 7 de octubre de 2020
“La Fundación Progresar estima que en la frontera con Norte de Santander hay entre 300 a 350 casos de desaparición forzada. Las autoridades colombianas no pueden buscar a estas personas al perder su jurisdicción territorial, pero en Venezuela tampoco hay esfuerzos para responder a las familias. Esta modalidad llega a la Comisión de la Verdad y la Unidad de Búsqueda de Desaparecidos”.

* The Colombia News Brief is a selection of relevant news articles, all of which do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Latin America Working Group.